His comments were the stuff of FOX News and ultra right-wing commenters on community news sites, but from them, black students and black graduates from HBCUs and PWIs can see a glimpse of the future of higher education in America – as told by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia during oral hearings in a landmark affirmative action case.
There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.
Despite being a sweeping, unbelievably racist assessment of black students and non-ivy league schools (presumably inclusive of HBCUs), Justice Scalia’s remarks are among the most helpful for HBCUs coming from a federal agency in years. He is historically wrong about black students’ aptitude for learning, and grossly unaware of academic rigor at most American schools, but his stupidity accomplishes the two primary goals HBCU advocates having been screaming about for decades.
First, Scalia proves to a certain degree the sentiments of college executives across the country; save for athletes and exceptional negroes who buy into racial and cultural assimilation, black students are not wanted, and really, not needed on most predominantly white campuses. Student-based racial animus and a lack of administrative engagement with black students and faculty at PWI campuses have become a major talking point nationwide. And these schools have responded, in specific and covert terms alike, to say that racial discomfort and harm is for the victim to fix, and not the responsibility of the institution or its culture.
Scalia gives voice to many presidents, provosts, faculty, students and boosters who are tired of the demand from a small minority of black students with the support of the “liberal media” in search of more mental, physical and cultural real estate in white spaces of higher education. That voice is growing louder, and more crass in its hate speech. But instead of being offended, we should be grateful that more opponents of black prosperity are showing their hands and forcing us to choose racial solidarity over integration and assimilation.
But we’re still tax-paying Americans, and within the push for racial solidarity on both sides, we still demand the equitable resources and autonomy we are guaranteed under the constitution. So it’s perfectly fine for Scalia to suggest that black students should go to HBCUs, or any other school he thinks best meets our academic needs – but he also must make sure that state and federal government funds these students and these institutions at the same levels received by non-black students and institutions as required by law.
We shouldn’t mind the country playing fast and loose with race, but equitable resources makes for a totally different issue. For as long as we continue to confuse progress with access, and diversity with demographics, black folks will always be on the losing end of all opportunities to develop colleges and communities on our terms.
Scalia’s remarks provide one of the few rare opportunities where an arrogant racist shows his true colors on the record and, inadvertently or otherwise, in favor of advancing the cause of black space and prosperity. There is no difference between Scalia promoting that most black students find success at ‘lesser schools’ and all of us who have yelled about the everlasting value of the nurturing environment and culturally accommodating learning space of HBCUs.
The only difference between us and Scalia is that he’s comfortable with inflaming America’s race war with his unwitting promotion of HBCUs; in our promotion, we’re all about ending it.
7 thoughts on “Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia – America's Most Racist HBCU Advocate?”
"The only difference between us and Scalia is that he’s comfortable with inflaming America’s race war with his unwitting promotion of HBCUs; in our promotion, we’re all about ending it."
Not really. I’ve read articles on this website where not only has HBCU Digest hoped and wished that affirmative action be reversed so Blacks would be forced back to HBCUs but also where HBCU Digest has often questioned the "Blackness" of those of us who choose to attend PWIs and HWCUs. This site fans the flames as well, but you think because the other side is a little bit louder it’s okay.
Further more, to think that his words are some kind of endorsement of HBCUs is nothing short of a joke. You’re openly admitting that HBCUs are "slower-track" and "less-advanced" than PWIs and HWCUs. Yes, that what Black students want; to go to a slower track, less advanced school that won’t push them. Yup, let’s sign them up for this. No wonder why HBCUs are only getting around 11% of college bound, Black, high school students. No wonder why I walked away from this site. Disgusting. With "allies" like you, HBCUs don’t need to fear their enemies.
"There is no difference between Scalia promoting that most black students find success at ‘lesser schools’ and all of us who have yelled about the everlasting value of the nurturing environment and culturally accommodating learning space of HBCUs."
Surely, you jest. The two sentiments come from very very different places. One is a baseless and totally incorrect assumption about the academic quality of HBCUs. The other speaks to the quality of life beyond the lecture hall.
"He is historically wrong about black students’ aptitude for learning, and grossly unaware of academic rigor at most American schools, but his stupidity accomplishes the two primary goals HBCU advocates having been screaming about for decades."
I think that covers my thoughts on how wrong he is, but in his racist way, it would be to our benefit to interpret his words as support for HBCUs over black students enrolling at PWIs. And if he supports HBCUs, then as one of the highest judges in the nation, he should support the constitutional guarantee for these schools to be equal to the same PWIs which he seeks to bar black students from entering.
Can you actually point to some text where I "admitted" HBCUs were slower, when I specifically pointed out Scalia’s gross ignorance of the rigor of American colleges outside of the Ivy League universe?
Further, its clear you haven’t processed this piece with a deeper level of critical thinking beyond a headline and the text you must’ve parsed, because clearly, his words are an unintended asset to those of u who want to see HBCUs receive equitable funding and increased enrollment, particularly among black students. Since Scalia thinks all black folks should go to HBCUs, he should endorse states and federal government making them desirable destinations for black students to consider.
And since black students can now see a growing level of discontent from students, alumni, even court officials who don’t want us there, perhaps we will be more inclined to rethink those prisms through which we see higher education. Perhaps his words may be a catalyst for black folks to consider not going to places where we clearly aren’t wanted, and where we clearly won’t be supported.
"Perhaps his words may be a catalyst for black folks to consider not going to places where we clearly aren’t wanted, and where we clearly won’t be supported."
These kinds of broad brush statements do not further your cause as much as you would like, especially in the eyes of those of us who know better. After graduating from an HBCU I chose to go to a PWI for law school for exactly the reason Scalia thinks I should have stayed away: the rigorousness of the program. I can tell you that I was most definitely wanted and supported. The faculty and staff was fantastic, always ready to help, always ready to give advice or support when needed. Never once did I feel like an outcast, or that I was treated as inferior to my white classmates. I thrived there both as a person and a student, made many lifelong friendships, and still keep in touch with many of the faculty and staff to this day.
To any students who may be reading this: please do not feel that if you go to a PWI you are automatically walking into territory where you will be ignored and abandoned by the university. Is the feeling like that at some schools? I’m sure. Is it like that at all schools? Of course not. Be sure to pick the program that feels right to YOU. Talk to students, staff, faculty members, and alumni. If an HBCU is where you want to be, that is great, and I welcome you to the family. If a PWI is the school for you, that is also great, and I welcome you to that family as well. I’ve been on both sides. I’ve even gotten a degree from an university in Asia, where I was the ONLY black person in the entire building. You CAN succeed as long as you find an environment that fits you and your needs.
Sincerely, I’m glad you found a place where you were welcomed and supported that wasn’t an HBCU. I know several folks like you, and they are as passionate about HBCU success as you are. However, your experience and the experience of others which may have been positive at PWIs doesn’t negate the protests nationwide from thousands of students having bad experiences at these same schools. It doesn’t negate the fact that affirmative action was needed to get us there in the first place. And, for folks like me who had terrible experiences at PWIs for graduate degrees, it doesn’t eliminate the dissonance felt for those of us from HBCU undergrad roots, who know that nurturing and support can and should be a part of the educational process, and not something to be built towards after a racial crisis has broken out on campus.
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